They were a hard-living lot, the lords and ladies of the House of Essex. Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, was the favorite and putative lover of the Virgin Queen; but the affection of Elizabeth was not sufficient to save him from the disgrace and scandal of a public trial for disobeying Her Majesty and entering England without her permission. His son, the third Earl of Essex, also named Robert, is chiefly memorable for the scandalous circumstances in which he was sued for divorce by the Countess of Essex. Of such stuff are woven the legends of the great houses of England--and the great historical romances of the twentieth century. It would be vain, however, to seek either legend or romance in the present work. In his study of the court trials of the various sprigs of the Essex tree, lawyer Matter is content to reproduce documents rather than persons, declarations of fact rather than realities. As a result, My Lords and Lady of Essex, despite its rather catchy title, reads like--and, in fact, is--little more than a collection of legal analecta, as though the author had inadvertently published his source material rather than his manuscript.